A social media audit is the process of reviewing and analyzing your brand’s social media strategy to get a better understanding of what’s performing well and what could be improved. Here’s how to tackle it.
9 steps to conduct a social media audit:
- Organize your accounts
- Check for cohesion, completion, and consistency
- Analyze your performance metrics
- Deep dive into your audience
- Examine your publishing strategy
- Revisit your content
- See how you stack up against competitors
- Make a plan for next steps
- Create a schedule for regular audits
Ad spending on social media is projected to reach more than $207 billion in 2023. That’s a massive sum, especially when you compare it to Television advertising, which is forecast to amount to less than a third of that at $61 billion.
Social media is one of the most affordable digital marketing tactics around, with a low barrier to entry.
Through social media activities (organic and paid), you can expand your reach, grow brand awareness, drive website traffic, and target your audience in a seamless way.
Zooming out to analyze your overall social strategy’s performance is key to ensuring what you’re doing is likely to be successful.
So, how do you gather this info? Through a social media audit.
What is a social media audit?
A social media audit is a bird’s-eye view of your current social media strategy as a whole. It’s a time when you take a step back and evaluate your efforts: what’s working, what’s not, and what could be tweaked for greater success.
Without an audit of your organic and paid social media presence, there’s a chance you’ll end up putting effort into strategies or platforms that miss the mark.
A social media audit can help you identify how well you’re speaking to your target audience, in-depth insights into your audience demographics, and which posts resonate most at which times.
Why you should conduct a social media audit
Social media’s real power lies in merely having an active presence and in harnessing its full potential through regular audits.
While the generic reasons for conducting a social media audit include maximizing effectiveness and gaining audience insights, there are some additional benefits and valuable insights that can significantly impact your brand’s success that you might not know about.
Here are a few:
1. Uncover new platforms and opportunities
Most brands are likely to have a strong presence on popular social media networks like Facebook, LinkedIn, TikTok, and Instagram.
However, a social media audit can reveal untapped opportunities on new platforms or niche networks that may align better with your target audience. When you identify and invest in these platforms, you can gain a competitive edge and connect with a more focused and engaged audience.
We asked HawkSEM Senior Paid Social Media Manager Nicole Goodnough to explain a bit more about what missed opportunities an audit will uncover.
“An audit not only reveals platform gaps, but also features within each platform — like Facebook Groups that a Facebook Page creates and manages to build their community, LinkedIn newsletters, or Instagram stories in addition to posts in home feeds, etc.,” she says.
2. Assess your brand reputation and crisis preparedness
Social media audits give you a unique opportunity to assess your brand’s online reputation and crisis management capabilities.
You can evaluate your customer feedback, comments, and brand mentions to gauge the sentiment surrounding your brand and address any negative sentiment promptly.
When you understand how your brand is perceived on social media, you can be proactive, manage any potential crises, and safeguard your reputation.
3. Evaluate influencer partnerships
Influencer marketing has become a powerful tool for brands to reach their target audience authentically.
A social media audit will help you analyze past influencer collaborations and their impact on your brand’s reach and engagement. You can also find top-performing influencers and assess the value they bring to your campaigns to optimize your future influencer partnerships and allocate resources more effectively.
4. Gain insights into competitor strategies
Beyond benchmarking your own performance, a social media audit will give you a valuable peek behind the curtain of your competitors’ strategies.
Analyze your competitors’ social media presence, content, and engagement tactics to find inspiration for your own campaigns, identify gaps in the market, and find new trends to leverage. There are a variety of social media audit tools to help you carry out your analysis.
Remember, you shouldn’t just copy your competitors. Your audit should lead you to strategies that will be successful (and those that won’t).
5. Compliance and legal safeguarding
In the world of social media, it’s essential to comply with platform policies and legal regulations.
A social media audit helps ensure that your content, campaigns, and promotions adhere to these rules, safeguarding your brand from potential penalties or reputational damage.
6. Unify brand voice and messaging
A consistent brand voice across all social media channels is crucial for brand recognition and building trust with your audience. It also shows us what not to do and what might fall flat or have a negative impact.
We asked Goodnough where you should start when conducting a social media audit.
“Particularly for a large enterprise like international brands or universities, the first step to conducting a social media audit is to find all profiles that appear or claim to be ‘official,’” she explains. “Depending on the organization, this could be hundreds of accounts.”
Goodnough adds, “Once you have compiled all the company profiles into a list, the next step would be to determine whether a profile should remain active.”
She also gives us a list of things to consider, including:
- Is the profile actively maintained?
- Are the followers engaged?
- Does the profile share accurate, relevant content to your brand?
A social media audit helps identify any inconsistencies in your posts, the copy, tone, or visual elements across platforms. Unify your brand voice and create a cohesive and recognizable brand identity that resonates with your audience.
Now you know all the great reasons to invest some time into a social media suit, let’s go through the step-by-step process used to complete one.
How to conduct a social media audit
There’s no single right way to conduct a social media audit. After all, different brands will be more active on different platforms, post at different frequencies, and leverage their accounts in different ways.
However, you’ll have a solid framework by following the nine steps below. From there, you can modify as necessary when conducting your own social media audit.
1. Organize your accounts
As with content or PPC audits, it starts with getting organized. This means gathering all of your social media assets and putting them in one place, like a Google Sheet.
Assets can include:
- Social media handles for each platform you use
- The person responsible for managing each account
- How often do you publish on each platform per week
- Your paid social campaigns
Depending on factors like the size of your company or how long you’ve been in your role, there may be social media accounts for your business floating around on the internet that you don’t even know about.
2. Check for cohesion, completion, and consistency
Now that you’ve got all of your social media account information in one place, it’s time to analyze each account.
Are all of the applicable fields filled out on each? Is your logo consistent and current across all platforms? Is your company information, team size, and mission consistent and up to date?
If you don’t already have a short “About Us” paragraph or mission statement, now’s a great time to create one! You can even create a short and a longer version.
For example, you have less room on your Twitter/X and Instagram profiles’ “about” sections than you do on platforms like Facebook and LinkedIn. It should be thorough enough to explain your company but short enough not to exceed each platform’s character limit.
Pro tip: Keeping UTM tracking parameters consistent for paid and organic social media posts will make tracking easier. Google Analytics doesn’t automatically pull in data from social channels, so it’s up to you to set that up.
3. Analyze your performance metrics
Now comes the tricky part.
Gather the key metrics for each platform to help give you insight into how your audience is responding to your social media content.
You can see which types of posts and ads perform best so you can know what to post more of on your respective timelines.
Depending on how your accounts are set up, it’s likely that you’ll need to go into each individual platform to access that data, which can be quite time-consuming. You can opt for metrics from the last three months, six months, or a year, depending on how long the accounts have been active.
How far back you can source data also varies by social media platform. For example, on Instagram, you can only go back 90 days.
Pro tip: Scheduling and posting your social media content through a social media management tool like HubSpot, Hootsuite, or Sprout Social can save you some time when it comes to seeing how many posts you’ve published during a certain time frame, and how much engagement (comments, likes, clicks, and shares) those posts garnered.
4. Deep dive into your audience
A great feature most major social media platforms offer when it comes to social media analytics is audience insights. For example, comparing the number of followers you have on each platform will tell you which platforms are seeing more success.
But this is not the only metric you should look at. Sometimes, you will find you may have a high follower count but low engagement on one platform and fewer followers but higher engagement on another.
Take care to make sure you understand how each platform calculates conversion and engagement rates, because they don’t all use the same method, and you won’t be comparing apples to apples.
You should also look at how fast each of your accounts is growing, then drill down further into why that might be. Maybe you’re interacting or posting more on some platforms than others.
Demographic insights can show you things like your followers’ age range, gender breakdown, what regions they reside in, and more. Platforms can also offer data unique to that specific channel, like job functions on LinkedIn and interest categories on TikTok.
Try to keep an open mind when it comes to this data. You may think you know your target audiences, but user behavior on social media can surprise you.
Pro tip: Look at engagement metrics to see how your audience is interacting with your brand. Are they sharing your posts? What post and ad types see the most engagement? What other patterns do you notice?
5. Examine your publishing strategy
There are a few ways you can determine how often you post on each platform.
If you use a scheduling tool, you can count up or download a spreadsheet showing all of your social posts for the specified time period, then divide by the number of days. Alternatively, you can manually count them on each platform, and then divide them by the number of days.
Once you’ve got your figures, see how they compare. When it comes to the platform you see the most engagement on, are you posting more or less than on others? Some scheduling tools can even tell you the best average times to post each week.
6. Revisit your content
This is the point when you want to dig into your actual posts. Most of these main platforms include an analytics section where you can determine your top-performing posts for a given time period.
What do you think it is about these posts or ads that resonated? It could be a question that sparked an interesting conversation, a unique piece of data, a visually appealing carousel, or something more.
This is also when you want to make sure the content aligns with your brand mission and goals. And also that you are communicating with your audience in a way that resonates with them.
Are your voice and tone speaking to your audience consistently? Do all of your posts follow the same content guidelines? Are you using the same tone and vocabulary that your audience speaks in?
Once you figure out these answers, you can focus on creating more posts similar to the ones that are seeing the most success.
7. See how you stack up against competitors
In almost all areas of business, it’s a mistake to keep blinders on when it comes to your competition. Working in a silo just makes it easier for your competitors to leapfrog over you — so don’t give them the opportunity.
Check out what your competition is doing in terms of social:
- What platforms they’re on
- How often they post
- The ad types they leverage
- What kinds of posts they publish
- What multimedia they use, if any
- Which of their posts are most popular
Compare their actions to your brand’s. Are they asking more questions? Do they use more GIFs or graphics? Are they posting during a time you generally aren’t?
You don’t want to simply mimic other businesses in your space, but there’s value in knowing how they’re using these platforms.
Pro tip: There are tons of settings you want to be aware of, especially when it comes to targeting, during a paid social campaign setup. Meta (Facebook/Instagram) makes it easier now to spend your money efficiently with Automated Placements and Dynamic Ad formats, but pay attention to who you’re showing your ads to as well.
8. Make a plan for next steps
Once your social media audit is complete, it’s time to take stock of your findings. Schedule a time to chat with your team to discuss the audit results. You can highlight key takeaways, and then create action items to implement from there.
This is also when you can discuss any new tactics or platforms you all may want to try. For example, 44% of TikTok users in the US are between the ages of 20-39, so if this is your target audience, TikTok could be worth trying out.
Pro tip: Once you’ve audited your social accounts, you can start optimizing for efficiency. It’s easy to spend a lot and have nothing to show for it. Learn from that, then start building back up from the areas that performed well and conducting A/B tests to optimize your paid social campaigns.
9. Create a schedule for regular audits
Much like campaign creation, metrics analysis, and strategizing, a social media audit isn’t a one-and-done process. Rather, it’s something you want to carve out time to do on a regular basis.
The frequency will depend on factors like your team, social media goals, and company size. Conducting quarterly audits of your social media marketing is often a good place to start if you have the bandwidth.
We get it: Audits are time-consuming. It’s easy to let tasks, like a social media audit, fall to the bottom of your to-do list.
However, creating a recurring reminder and blocking off some time on your team’s calendar each month to review results will help everyone stay on the same page. It can also foster more transparency around social media efforts and results.
Social media audit checklist
Ready to conduct a thorough audit? Use this social media audit checklist to ensure you cover all the essential areas for evaluating and optimizing your social media presence.
“The most important part of an audit isn’t the audit itself, but the follow-through with action items based on your findings, explains Goodnough.
She says, “If you’ve determined your audience is more engaged with Instagram Stories than posts, efforts to share important information should be shifted to Stories. If you decide to launch a Threads account because your Instagram followers are active there, you must post consistently and engage with your audience to maintain the new account.”
“Whatever your audit revealed, remember to use that data to set goals and determine a path forward,” Goodnough says.
List all social media platforms where your brand has a presence.
Compile a list of all profiles owned by or affiliated with your brand.
Ensure each account is fully optimized with up-to-date information and visuals.
Verify consistent branding elements (profile photos, descriptions, links, etc.) across all platforms.
Define and refine your target audience for each platform.
Analyze follower growth on each platform to identify trends and opportunities.
Measure audience engagement levels through likes, comments, shares, and click-through rates (this will vary from platform to platform).
Identify top-performing content based on engagement metrics and conversion rates.
Review content relevance and alignment with your brand’s mission and values.
Identify your main competitors and analyze their social media presence.
Evaluate their content strategy and audience engagement metrics.
Assess the performance of your paid social media campaigns.
Ensure ad messaging aligns with your brand’s voice and consistency with organic posts.
Hashtag and keyword analysis
Evaluate the effectiveness of the hashtags you use (for the relevant platforms).
Optimize keywords and alt text for improved discoverability on relevant platforms.
Monitor your brand mentions and address customer feedback promptly.
Stay updated on industry trends and incorporate them into your content strategy.
Review influencer collaborations
Evaluate the effectiveness of influencer partnerships in reaching your target audience.
Ensure influencer values align with your brand and endorsements appear authentic.
Social media policy and guidelines
Review and update existing social media guidelines for employees and representatives.
Provide training to employees involved in social media management.
Need a template to help? A quick Google search will yield a free social media audit template beginners can use to make this a bit easier.
Pro tip: Create a social media audit spreadsheet to organize all of your data and action items in one place.
How often should you conduct a social media audit?
The frequency at which you should perform these audits can vary depending on various factors.
Here are some considerations to help you determine the ideal frequency for conducting your social media audits:
- Annual comprehensive audit: This annual review allows you to get a big-picture view of your social media performance over the past year. It enables you to track long-term trends, assess the impact of your overall social media marketing strategy, and set objectives for the coming year.
- Quarterly performance check: These can provide you with valuable insights into shorter-term trends and patterns. This frequency allows you to identify seasonal variations in your social media metrics and make necessary adjustments to your content strategy accordingly.
- Campaign-specific audits: These audits help you gauge the effectiveness of your campaign and optimize it in real time for better results.
- Platform changes or updates: Social media platforms frequently update their algorithms and features, which can significantly impact your performance. Whenever there are significant changes on a platform, it’s wise to conduct an audit to assess how these changes have affected your metrics and engagement levels.
- Milestones and business changes: If your business undergoes significant changes, such as launching new products, entering new markets, or rebranding, it’s essential to conduct an audit to align your social media strategy with these changes.
Goodnough gives us some good advice on how frequently audits should be conducted:
“Quarterly, if possible. But if your social staff is lean, or you’re a business owner managing your own social presence, twice a year will give you enough time to implement any optimizations to your social strategy and gather data to review when it’s time for the next audit.”
It’s nearly impossible for every one of your followers to see every post you publish on social media. Add that to the millions of people and companies on these platforms, and it’s easy to get lost in the shuffle.
By conducting a social media audit, you’ll have a clearer understanding of what posts are speaking to your audience, which platforms are bringing you the most success, and what adjustments you can make to ensure your accounts and content are top-notch.
This article has been updated and was originally published in May 2020.